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Today I finished Vigils swan song, the second game in the franchise may also be its last, now that THQ has been dissolved and all of its studios have been auctioned off. At the time of writing this nobody has tried to acquire the Darksiders IP and that means it could forever lay in limbo. Here is what I thought of the game…

When i played the first Darksiders, I knew very little about it, other than it was a console game with a rather attractive visual style. Given I played the PC port I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, it turns out Darksiders was an impressively deep game, with tons of content and gameplay to be enjoyed. You can check out what I thought of that here.

The sequel has a very similar art style, which is great because the dark comic book feel to the games is a major attraction for me. This time the story focuses on Death, the second of the ,four horseman summoned to the aid of War. This time you are charged with resurrecting the now extinct human species, attempting to undo the breaking of the seventh seal unleashing hell on earth and wiping all humans out. War was accused of this crime but his horseman bros have arrived to help prove Wars innocence!

The music in the game is fantastic, it really adds to the feel of what is a strange but likable world. The voice acting is also impressive with Death having a particularly husky tone. The environments are beautiful too, with grand vistas and bizarre impossible scenes to gaze at. Darksiders 2 has a few changes as you may expect from a sequel. Now you get loot, various types using the traditional WoW loot color coding: green, blue, purple and orange. Orange weapons are possessed weapons and take on the properties of whatever other loot you feed them as a sacrifice. These usually end up being the most powerful weapons once fully upgraded.

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Throughout the game there are various unique weapons too, usually from bosses you defeat but also a few secret locations. The nature of the looting and leveling system means you are forever outgrowing whatever you have equipped. There are a few vendors within the game to purchase some equipment but it’s sort of random what items they have which are useful to you. I finished the game with over a million gold and nothing worth spending it on, while I didn’t do absolutely everything I did a fair bit and felt this was perhaps a little excessive. More options for spending that money or less money overall would have been more interesting to the game play.

I found there was a significant leap in difficulty when arriving on Earth, about two-thirds through the game. Up until that point I was doing fine and then suddenly I needed to use heal potions on basic enemies, at least until I discovered I was supposed to be using the “heaven cannons”. As in the first game some of the angels use guns and once you pick one of these up it changes the difficulty within the earth zone significantly as well as the gameplay strategy.

There are many bosses through the game, all with interesting strategies and some impressive animations, with much use of the lock on mechanic and dodging about it is fairly straight forward to beat most of them. I had to resort to a guide only once for the giant rock guardian since I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. (He has bombs you can shoot on his arm).

The variety of enemies and the different tactics you need to defeat them is both refreshing and exciting, as you discover what works and then how you can exploit that advantage when that enemy is mixed in with others. There is an arena zone called the crucible for facing off against waves of enemies for various rewards, I don’t know how high it goes but i gave up around level 25. There is also another style of arena in the form of a maze, you unlock levels and secrets through exploring this but you also get hint pages as you explore the main game world, giving you directions to each level. It’s very similar to the arena in scope and to be honest while I did the first four of ten levels, at the time of writing this I forgot about it and never went any further.

As with the first game there is plenty of secrets to discover, tasks to collect items or retrieve objects and as you unlock more tools of the trade, such as splitting your soul or the portal mechanic, you can go back to previous zones and discover secrets or hidden paths you previously could not reach. I really like this design, it’s obviously intended to reuse older content by giving you reasons to go back but as it’s mostly optional the choice is yours how much you want to explore and definitely extends the life of the game.

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There are a few negatives though, a big flaw in the design of the game is the single save feature. Your progress is automatically saved and overwritten, there are no backups. Early on in the game I got one of the key orbs I needed to roll across the room, (to unlock a door) stuck. It had clipped into the terrain at an awkward angle and wouldn’t budge. I tried throwing explosives at it and leaving and returning to the zone, I even restarted and reloaded the game but forced to use only a single save, it was saved in that spot permanently. I had to restart the game losing about 4 hours worth of play, believe me when I say this….I was not pleased.

I also had some geometry issues with my summoned ghost companions, who occasionally managed to get stuck while in the middle of performing an order. These sorts of things probably would have been fixed shortly after launch if Vigil and THQ were not going bankrupt at the same time. Mostly I was just annoyed by the single save feature, your game has to be rock solid if you are going to force one save on a player and as proven, the game isn’t solid enough. It would have been a tiny matter for me to load a previous save and restarted the puzzle, there was no need for that issue to have taken me more than a few minutes, instead of forcing me to restart the entire game.

Despite this grievance, I did enjoy Darksiders 2 a lot, I’d say it was a worthy sequel to the original and I’m very sad that it’s looking like the further two horsemen will not get games dedicated to them. Fingers crossed somebody decent picks up the IP and continues on this worthy franchise.

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